Interview for the Swiss Business Hub
1. What is your business and how long have you been in operation?
We are a jewellery design and manufacture firm specializing in fashion jewellery and bespoke one off pieces. Marijoli has been doing business since early 2005, so we are into our eighth year in operation.
2. When did you set-up in Hong Kong?
We set up in HK after moving from Japan in late 2009. Following the end of the financial crisis, surprisingly started to see the demise of the expat community there, so the move was logical.
3. Why did you set-up here?
Hong Kong is actually a far more cosmopolitan market than Japan, and as such a far better fit for Marijoli and particularly the bespoke line. People like to cause a stir when they enter a room in Hong Kong... Tokyo is quite the opposite.
4. Do you feel that Hong Kong is a good place to start a business?
Hong Kong is a great place to start a business. Thanks to the British framework that surrounds much of Company legal infrastructure, it is a very simple and transparent place to set up a company.
5. What have been the advantages and opportunities here that you may not have had in Switzerland?
Switzerland has a lot of onerous employment costs, whereas Hong Kong is a lot more flexible, again mirroring the UK. Although I do miss the long lunches.
6. What types of challenges have you encountered doing business here?
The biggest challenge here has being trying to negotiate with the Chinese factories, which has been extremely difficult. We have had some bad experiences and as a result moved the majority of production to Thailand, which for similar pricing is much higher quality.
7. Upon reflection of your own journey, what are the top three key business tips that you could give colleagues in Switzerland who wish to come to Hong Kong to try their hand at starting a business here?
Just come and do it! It is so easy.If you need to negotiate with the Chinese, get a Chinese partner in the enterprise. Finding someone you can trust can be hard. Invest time in training your team. Cantonese people are extremely efficient if they are clear on what they are supposed to be doing. Take a little extra time making that investment.